Points of authority

- Don Jaucian -

MANILA, Philippines - Being a correspondent for The Philippine STAR has an accompanying prestige, credibility and a tall heap of expectations. If you’re a senior writer — one of the pioneers at that — of a newspaper of a high stature, it’s almost forgivable to carry an air. Having worked on countless headlines, banner stories and significant coverages, prestige is highly expected. But these characteristics elude Jess Diaz’s personality. In fact, he seems to shun them, relegating such negative airs to the sidelines and focusing on only one thing: getting the news straight.

Diaz is almost a reclusive character: he answers questions fairly short and straight to the point; he fields the questions as if he prefers to ask them instead. The conciseness of his answers not only reflects a humble and grounded personality, it is also a reflection of his personal guidelines on reportage.

Reading a Jess Diaz news piece is like getting a current events lecture from a very cool, effective and insightful professor. He knows how to properly lay out the core issues without embellishments and unnecessary elements. “He’s very analytical. His copy doesn’t even need to be edited, it’s good as it is,” says STAR News Editor Marichu Villanueva.

Villanueva has nothing but high praise for Diaz. “He’s accommodating to young people and he’s willing to help younger journalists to help them improve their craft. He’s willing to point you in the right direction. He’s not the kind of reporter who would mislead you. If he cannot help you, he will tell you. What you see is what you get from Jess.”


Diaz originally started as a reporter of the defunct Times Journal prior to joining the STAR. Diaz has always wanted to be a reporter. He shares, “I have always wanted to work for a newspaper. In college, I was a member of the staff of the campus newspaper.”. Working with some of the people he looked up to in the Times Journal was a very life-changing experience for him.

“In the course of my reportorial career, the people I worked with in The Times Journal had great influences on me. These were big names in journalism. They were the editors and staff members whose stories, names and by-lines I read in the old Manila Times,” Diaz says.

Unknown to most people, Diaz also started in the agricultural beat. “Jess is a farmer at heart he knows all about agriculture,” Villanueva shares. “Until now he writes about agri-business. At times, agriculture secretaries would complain to me kasi hindi mo siya puwedeng bolahin. He understands the subject very well.”

During the beginnings of the STAR, the late Art Borjal, one of the pioneers of the newspaper, invited Diaz to join the team and he has been working for the STAR ever since.

At the front lines

Working with the STAR, Diaz thinks he is fortunate enough to be at the front lines as some of the country’s most important headlines unfurled before his very eyes. “The most important headlines in The STAR include the one the late Alex Fernando and Mrs. Betty Go-Belmonte agreed on: “Wear Yellow and Die.” The story about a Corysta whom Marcos loyalists mauled to death in a Manila rally. The others are those on the ratification of the Cory (1987) Constitution and the convening of the post-martial law Congress.”

He counts his covering the Malacañang beat during President Cory Aquino’s time as one of his memorable experiences under the STAR. “I covered her first working visit to the US, where lawmakers gave her a standing ovation after she addressed them. I felt proud as a Filipino.”

Living the life of an intrepid reporter for a widely read daily can be daunting and dangerous, especially for Borjal who has covered several beats. Fortunately for Diaz, he hasn’t been in a situation where his life was in danger. “The politicians I covered never took the adverse stories I wrote about them against me,” he shares.

Villauneva attests to Diaz’s reputation and credibility. “He presents his stories in a very balanced manner. He has that kind of touch that even the person written about could not complain because his story is balanced. He goes out of his way to seek the truth, in keeping with STAR’s slogan ‘The Truth Shall Prevail’”.

Diaz appears almost unassuming for a reporter. “Jess is wily. He just sits in a corner, sometimes whistling to himself and you’ll think he’s not doing anything. But really, he has already come up with his story and the next day you will be shocked it’s not just an enterprise story, but an in-depth story as how he understands the situation.”

During his free time, Diaz loves to spend time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He has been blessed with a wonderful family, with his kids growing up to be professionals.

Working in the print industry these days can be very daunting, especially with the advent of the digital media. But Diaz is confident that print has a long and healthy life here in the Philppines. “Unlike in the US, Filipinos will continue to depend on newspapers for news and information despite the age of the Internet, which is not as widely used here as in First World countries,” he shares. And with a reporter like Diaz, it’s already an indication that The STAR also has a bright future ahead, delivering more insightful and concise news with time-tested credibility and accuracy.

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